Just a few days after his inauguration, the president of the United States, Donald Trump signed and executive order banning refugees and visa holders from (7) countries including Iraq. This step isn't only shocking because of the long history between the United States and Iraq, but it will also have an extremely dangerous influence on the situation of LGBT+ individuals in Iraq/KurdistanRegion.

 

LGBT+ people in Iraq/ KurdistanRegion suffer from daily human rights violations in the country which are committed by armed groups some of which are backed by the Iraqi government itself, social difficulties and honor crimes, and other kinds of dangers that make it almost impossible for an individual who's known or even rumoured to have a non heteronormative sexual orientation to stay in the country and be alive. The ban against Iraqi passport holders makes it impossible for those individuals to be resettled into the US especially because of the unclarity around the details of this new order. 

 

Many LGBT+ individuals are already waiting for their files to be processed at the UNHCR offices in Turkey and Lebanon, and are in desperate need of relocation into safer countries including the US, and are now uncertain of what the means to them. Some of those individuals have been waiting for the resettlement for more than (3) years without receiving any kind of financial or housing assistance. Tariq (Name changed for safety reasons) who's currently in Beirut waiting for his medical test results to come back before he's resettled to Chicago said "I am terrified. I've been raped and attacked for being gay when I was living in Baghdad, and for the past number of years I've been holding on to the hope of being resettled to a safe country where I have the chance to be who I am and build a new life. Now everything is gone, and I have no hope for my life anymore."

 

This ban won't only affect LGBT+ individuals attempting to seek asylum in the states, but it will also influence the LGBT+ movement in Iraq/Kurdistan as a whole since a large part of the advocacy work is done in New York by working with government missions and UN agencies who can put pressure on the Iraqi and Kurdish governments to make reforms. Losing access to these venues limits the possibilities for change for the LGBT+ community especially because any kind of local advocacy efforts are not possible in Iraq/KurdistanRegion.

 

The active presence of the US embassy in Baghdad has played an important role in providing resources, funding, and protection to some activists and LGBT+ individuals, and with these new orders which are influencing the relationship between the two countries, it's unclear what role the embassies in Iraq will play. 

 

Among his other decisions, Trump also made it clear that he is going to reduce the US's contribution and role in the United Nations which represents a major setback for the Iraqi/Kurdish and also global LGBT+ movements as this means that one of the most influential states in the world that has been actively advocating for LGBT+ rights with different governments in the past 8 years will suddenly disappear, and might even play an opposite role to the one the US played under Obama's leadership.